The aftermath of a World Cup fiasco forced England to make some hard calls, and since then the Eoin Morgan-led side has managed to turn around their white-ball game completely. With the 2019 World Cup less than eight months away, England, the top-ranked ODI side, are seen as one of the favourites to win the title.
England will play two 50-over practice matches in Colombo on Friday and Saturday before flying to Dambulla for the first of five ODIs.
"I come back with a totally different outlook,” said Morgan. “(In 2014), we were still in transition in trying to play a style that didn’t come natural to us. We struggled to take wickets, we struggled to get Kumar Sangakkara out, and Mahela (Jayawardena) played really well.
“They were the foundation of the Sri Lanka team. So it was teams at two very different stages of their cycle.”
Morgan also heaped heavy praise on Andrew Strauss, who stepped down from a full-time role of Director of Cricket on Wednesday, for their impeccable rise in the limited-overs format.
"He's been at the forefront of (the team’s resurgence)," said Morgan. "He was incredibly instrumental in our forward thinking and planning to get to the position we are in at the moment. Going back to the start of the summer of 2015, the direction given by him to myself and Paul Farbrace, who was interim coach at the time, and all the selectors was to build something to prepare for the 2019 World Cup.
"Without that direction, we wouldn't haven't been allowed the freedom to play in that manner, because we could plan four years ahead. The absolute clarity and direction he wanted us to go in was quite a big deal. He will be missed because we're coming towards the end of the cycle that he was at the very beginning of."
Talking about the teams' rise, Morgan said it was "well thought out, well planned and, to an extent, well executed.
"I still think we have a long way to go. It’s taken us three-and-a-half years to get to where we are now. But I think we’re getting to the most important part of what we’ve been planning towards.”
Meanwhile, things haven't been going well for Sri Lanka. They lost to Bangladesh and Afghanistan in the group-stage of the 2018 Asia Cup, and then discarded Angelo Mathews from the captaincy. The 31-year-old was also dropped from the ODI and T20I squads that will be led by Dinesh Chandimal.
“England is a well-equipped team for most conditions, that’s one reason they’ve been the No.1 team in ODI cricket," said Chandika Hathurusingha, the head coach.
With the World Cup not too far away, Chandimal stressed that if they can manage to beat England in the series, it will do them a world of good. “The players are in a good frame of mind. “If we can end this series on a winning note it will help us go into the World Cup confidently.”
The five-match ODI series, starting October 10th, will be followed by a solitary Twenty20 International. The two teams will then be involved in a Three-Test series.
First Published: October 4, 2018, 2:09 PM IST